One of the most daunting and challenging tasks with which our memory has to cope on an almost daily basis is remembering passwords. Modern life surrounds us with passwords, for almost any activity we need to carry out, be it ordering books on the web, entering out computer at work or opening our free email service account from any computer other than our own. We need to provide strong passwords for using each of these services or computers, but we also have to make these passwords memorable, and desirably intuitive.
Using memory pegs can help us once more to overcome this problem, by creating a constant number peg that would serve as the keystone for creating each password we will use henceforth. The passwords we will create will also comply with the basic requirements for strong passwords: a 6-8 long password, which combines digits with letters, preferably mixing small and capital letters.
The pattern I choose for a password is as follows:
- [2 small letters] + [4-digit number] + [2 capital letters]
First of all, you should choose the number that will always serve as the middle part in your password. This number should by no means be your birth year, the birth year of your spouse or any of your kids, or any other information that can be easily guessed by someone stealing your wallet.
For example: I got married on the 22/1/1997. Because the first two digits are identical, I can use the following number as a peg: 2197.
Now let us choose the letters. The best way to associate the password with the specific site or service we want to use is to take this site/service name and use only its consonants (as mentioned in the article about remembering digits by converting them to numbers, all vowels plus H do not count).
A few examples:
- My possible password for registering to Amazon: am2197ZN
- My possible password for registering to Facebook: fc2197BK
- My possible password for registering to Google mail: gg2197LE
What about occasions when we need to remember passwords we did not choose? In such cases, we can use either the digit-number (and conversely) method or the customized acronyms.
If the password is a combination of digits and letters, such as 7dw3eh, try to create a customized acronym. Just like remembering the taxonomy (Kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species) with an acronym like “Kings play chess on fine-grained sand”, you can remember the password 7dw3eh with an acronym like “7 dwarves with 3 enormous hoses”, and of course create this picture in your mind.
If the password contains only digits (for example: if our ATM password is 6691), convert it into letters you can remember (in the case of 6691, you can remember it as Gigabyte; if the password is 8732, remember it as fake moon). That would definitely require some visual thinking, but isn’t that all what mnemonics are about?